Monday, December 22, 2014

The Perfect Mother Based on a True Story (Jelka Pesic)

The Perfect Mother is a 1997 movie that is based on mother in law Jelka Pesic. There has been lots of speculation on whom this movie was based, from Stylou Cristofi to Catherine Wynekoop, but I have confirmed that it is based on a crime that occurred in Canada.

Tyne Daly plays the evil mother part exceptionally well. Read what happened in the real life story below.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Murder Timeline Alexandra Ignatovic

Timeline in the murder of Alexandra Ignatovic
by Traciy Curry-Reyes

While visiting an open house not far from their home, Alexandra Ignatovic and her mother Zdenka run into a member of their church, Jelka Pesic. Jelka Pesic comes over to them and introduces herself. She notices that they speak the same language..Serbian. Jelka seems like a well-spoken but extremely aggressive woman.

 Somewhere in the conversation, Alex mentions that her car needs to be repaired. Jelka suggests that she go to her family owned shop "Sam and Sons." A few days later Alexandra aka Sandra does just that. She meets Jelka's son, Joe Pesic. They are immediately attracted to one another. The courtship starts fast. Here is how one friend, Tonia Mintenka, describes it: "They would buy matching sweatshirts, matching jackets, matching everything." A month after meeting Alex, Joe asked Zdenka for permission to marry her daughter.

Friends and family say that the engagement was first class. Joe Pesic had given Alex a beautiful engagement ring, and that Jelka, the mother in law, spared no expense in planning the engagement party for her son. It seemed that Alex was on cloud nine. She seemed to be so in love with Joe. Not long after the engagement party, Alex notices how clan-like the family is. She also begins to become a bit agitated by her future mother in laws' controlling behavior.

According to court record, Jelka would often disguise her demands as suggestions at first. Before long her suggestions became obvious demands. The days and weeks leading up to the wedding are torturous for Alex. She is tired of her overbearing mother in law meddling and changing every aspect of the wedding. Alexandra Ignatovic is an independent woman who does not like to be told what to do. Her mother in law Jelka Pesic dislikes her independent spirit and the two clash quite often during the planning of the wedding.

Saturday June 11, 1988
After midnight on the morning of her wedding, Alexandra cannot sleep. She is agitated by the argument that she had with Mama Pesic at the dinner party earlier in the day. She decides to pay her best friend in Vancouver a visit. When she arrives, she tells her best friend and maid of honor Angie Bruno that she is not sure about marrying into the family. She states that she loves Joe very much, but she is scared to become a part of the family. Angie reassures her friend that she is just having the jitters and that everything would be ok.

After the wedding, Jelka Pesic's controlling behavior worsens. She wants control over every aspect of Alexandra's life.

Controlling Behavior of Jelka Pesic
Jelka and her husband, Sam aka Sava, put down a huge chunk of a down payment on a $100,000 home for Alex and Joe, which was only about 5 minutes away from the Pesic family home. The fighting really begins when Alex is not allowed to pick out her own decorations for the home.

Jelka interferes with everything from the decorations and the wedding date to the wedding shower and wedding venue location. It was a complete nightmare for Alex, but every time her mother in law insisted, Alex insisted more. The growing tension between the two women would prove deadly. After returning from the honeymoon in Hawaii, the controlling behavior commenced. Jelka would just show up unannounced with bags of food and homemade meals amongst other unsolicited items.

It seemed ok at first, but her visits become more frequent and more imposing. It gets to the point where Jelka does not want Alex to do her own shopping for anything at all. Again, the more Jelka pushes, the more Alex resists, and the tension is now affecting the marriage. Joe starts to resent the fact that Alex and his mother are not getting along, but he blames Alex. The situation gets worse once baby Brandon is born in 1989.

Jelka is now interfering with the rearing of the baby. She does not follow the instructions left by Alex when she is babysitting. Jelka gives the baby whatever she thinks is best, in spite of Alex's objections. But, the relationship is virtually destroyed when Alex finds out that her mother in law has given her baby herbal tea to make him sleep.

According to the police, Alex made up her mind that day to never have anything to do with the Pesic family. When she stops speaking to them, the Pesic's start harassing her. First, they want Alex to have nothing to do with the home that they had purchased, and later block her from entering the home altogether. Alex then moves in with her mother, but hides in a shelter after the harassment persists.

And since her husband Joe is becoming more distant, (some say due to an affair that he was having at the time) she decides to file for divorce. The fighting continues back and forth until Alexandra wins access to her home again. She also wins custody of her son, Brandon. With each victory, the Pesics turn up the harassment even more.

 They put a lien against the home, have the water disconnected, and finally a tall tree is set a fire in her front lawn. Jelka Pesic does everything possible to make Alex leave the home. Lastly, she sends a book about the disappearance and murder of a woman named Cindy James where inside the article there is a highlighted phrase that says "you're dead."

Now, Alex is beside herself with fear, so she decides to get a restraining order against Joe Pesic. Alex is also afraid for her son Brandon and wants him  to have nothing to do with his grandparents, Jelka and Sava Pesic. Alex uses the Pesic's criminal history for theft and stolen property against them. But, every time Alex wins in court, the Pesics follow up with an appeal. In the last appeal, Jelka, Sava, and Joe ask to have visitation with Brandon. The date for that court hearing is set for August of 1992.

June 1992
The Pesic home is sold on Carson Street. Alex and Brandon are living with her mother Zdenka until she can finalize the purchase of her own home. She hires a private investigator named Orest Kaban because she knows that she is being stalked and harassed and wants proof of the stalking. The investigator documents everything. He begins by  following the Pesic family around. On a few occasions, Alex is sure that someone is following her in a white car. The next time she sees the car, she decides to copy down the license plate number. The police track the car to a young man named Milan Nenadic. In the days and weeks leading up to the murder and the upcoming court appearance, Alex is terrified. She has am eerie feeling that she will not live until the court appearance. A psychic confirms her beliefs.

The day of the murder
At about 6pm, Alex and her coworker, Bernice Courson, walk to the car parked in front of the office. They both jump in and lock the door. Alex starts the car, and Bernice bends down to put her bag on the floor, and suddenly she hears gun shots and a car speeding away. Alex falls on top of her. Bernice looks up and gets a view of the red car leaving the scene. While under surveillance, Nenadic is arrested in front of the Pesic home after being paid by Jelka for his part in arranging the murder of Alex. When the police arrest him, he has over twenty thousand dollars on him at the time.

December 1993
Jelka Pesic, Milan Nenadic, Lawrence Delorme, and David Segoviano, are convicted in the death of Alexandra Ignatovic Pesic. Jelka is given a life sentence with an eligibility of parole after serving 25 years.

David Segoviano is identified as the actual shooter.


Angie Bruno had known Alex since they were small children

Alexandra Pesic is shot twice in the head.

Jelka and Sava Pesic were originally from Yugoslavia. They spoke fluent Serbian.

The psychic told Alex that she would be shot by someone driving a red car.

According to a commenter: It was one of the Pesic's friends who set the tree on fire. The person was also friends with Alex and one time. (thanks for the tidbit commenter!)

Sources used
court transcripts

article Chatelaine, May 1994 v67 n5 p56(6)
Mother-in-law from hell. (murder of Alexandra Ignatova Pesic) John T.D. Keyes.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Friday, May 27, 2011

Mother in Law kills Daughter in Law

I remember the first time this movie aired on tv on one of those Sunday night or Monday night true story movies channels, I was horrified that a mother in law could be so evil. I remember feeling so sorry for this young girl. It has been really hard uncovering the real story behind this movie. I remember when I finally made the connection between the true story and the movie version back in the nineties, I was even more shocked at how close this story really is to the true story. There were some name changes and location changes. But, the true spirit of the movie and many of the chronological events that take place in the movie are very real. Not every detail of the true story was included in the movie. I have been able to pick up a lot of anecdotal information from others who know the real people. I have been desperately looking for a photo of Alexandra Ignatovic Pesic.

This photo is from a 1985 competition in the Miss Canada Pageant. You can also listen to the video and hear her voice in real time. Just a tidbit: her hair, I believe at the time that she met the family was dyed blonde, in the movie and of course in the real video footage, her hair is brunette. You can also find an up to date photo of Brandon Pesic. He is all grown up with a family of his own. He lives in Burnaby.

Access photo archive Here

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Mother in Law Had Daughter in Law Killed (recent cases)

Here are a few recent cases of mother in laws from hell who have killed their daughter in laws. These stories are not affiliated with the movie or the story above which inspired the movie.

2011 Ohio Mom Missing Found Dead Murdered by In Laws

Summer Inman, mother of three, who people describe as a beautiful kind woman, was missing for days before she was found dead. Calls poured in that a woman had been kidnapped and forced in the car at 11 at night by two men with dark clothing and a woman with blonde hair who was driving the getaway car. A man approached the kidnappers to try and help her, but they were pepper sprayed by the kidnappers. Summer Inman had been cleaning a nearby bank in Logan at the time of the kidnapping. Summer's mother informed police that her daughter Summer was in a custody dispute with her husband, and that the police should investigate the in laws. Cops contacted Summer's husband Logan Inman. He said that he was spending time with his parents at the time of the murder. All three were arrested as suspects in the murder. Sandra Inman, the mother in law, finally told the police where they could locate the body. The body was found in a septic system on the property of Nelsonville church. The mother in law pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to the kidnapping and abduction charges. The judge has found her competent to stand trial. Trial dates for William A. Inman Sr., 47, and William A. Inman Jr., 26 are coming up soon.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Crazy Mother in Law (Dora Litter)

The Case of Dora Litter

In 1954 Dora Litter was a 50 year old mother in law who murdered her daughter in law Edith Liter. Edith Liter was just 21 years old when she was found in their home. Dora Liter was eventually sent to an insane asylum in Ohio.

Styllou Christofi

A lot of people speculated that "The Perfect Mother" was inspired by the case of Styllou Christofi, but I have confirmed that the case was based on Jelka Pesic.

Styllou Christofi killed her daughter in law, too. Her daughter in law's name was Hella and Styllou couldn't stand her. She decided to get rid of her daughter in law by killing her on July 29, 1954. First, she hit her over the head with an ash pan, choked her, and then dragged her to her garden. She then doused paraffin all over the scene and lit it afire. Afterward, she ran into the street screaming for help. When the police came, she made up a story that she had been awakened by the smell of something burning. She then headed down stairs when she found Hella. The police didn't buy her story. The mother in law was arrested and charged with murder. She was sentenced to death and executed in December of 1954. She was buried at Holman prison until 1971, when the prison underwent construction. Then, she was moved to marker 117 at Brookwood in Surrey. You can find a photo of her grave at Findagrave.